Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Culture War (Continued)

Interesting comment from ‘Novus’ on last week’s culture war post:

The essence of drama is conflict, something generally absent from a functional traditional family or the life of a successful and well-adjusted businessman, at least insofar as the family is functional or the businessman successful and well-adjusted. Dramatically the dysfunctional family is more interesting than the functional family - though I'm quite prepared to believe that any depiction of a hitherto successful and well-adjusted businessman suddenly finding his life going down the tube is as likely as not some kind of metaphysical punishment from the writer for being a dirty capitalist and grinding the faces of the poor, etc., etc.. The Game is a good example, where all through the film his experiences are presented as punishment for his being rich and successful - but even at the end, after the reveal, it's still apparently a cause for reassessing his priorities and re-ordering his life. That said, I love The Game, and I'm quite prepared to overlook politics in order to enjoy an otherwise great film. This is something you seem unprepared to do. When you accuse the MSM of "pushing dysfunction", all they're actually doing is writing interesting drama. Dysfunction = drama. Function = boring.

Furthermore, I absolutely do not buy the idea, implicit in your complaints, that the audience is bovinely incapable of differentiating fiction from reality, that if faced with a show like Torchwood (which I've enjoyed, though it's not as good as Doctor Who) or Shameless (which I've not seen) they will moronically assimilate everything they see as normal or acceptable behaviour. That sort of elitism ("the proles won't get it") is something you usually rail against, so to find you worried about shows "promoting pathologies", as though they're somehow hypnotising and brainwashing their audience, is slightly odd
Actually, with my type of movies the drama normally arises through an attack by killer zombies. Still, I can understand that not everybody likes rubbish, it’s just that there’s a continuum here. Gloomy Russian novels pretty much require dysfunction, zombie outbreaks not so much, except at the BBC where everything, without exception, has to include mentally-deficient characters behaving horribly – and, again, ‘Torchwood’ is the perfect example of this. It's this constant injection of human misery that's so grating.

Anyway, while it’s true conflict can be a fruitful source of drama, in so far as the Conservative position is frequently ignored, or presented as caricature, where’s the conflict ? Huge number of shows feature Liberal characters parroting Liberal articles of faith to other Liberals. The closest we got to actual conflict is when one Liberal tackles another Liberal about whether or not he’s Liberal enough. Ditto, it may once have been ‘edgy’ to feature a lead character who was, say, a really huge stoner, but it’s not the 70s anymore.

All of which is by way of saying that it’s not the Right that insists on bringing politics into it, it’s the Left that can’t produce the weather forecast without propagandising for social chaos – and that’s without taking account of explicitly political projects. In the same comment thread, RoP mentions ‘Cathy Come Home’. Leftists love that film as just the perfect piece of agitprop. Ditto, Fat Al: Oscar winner. So which is it ? Does the media set the cultural agenda or it all jus’ mindless entertainment ?

Besides, if it is all just meaningless pap, why do we need a licence fee anyway ? Does the BBC play a vital role in our culture, or does it just fill the air with moving wallpaper ? And if it’s option two, why exactly should we be forced to support it ?

It’s not elitism to suggest that a popular culture that features a constant diet of unfeasibly handsome characters engaging in consequence-free dysfunctional lunacy might just have real world effects. Well, not unless you’d also support a sitcom which featured a group of loveable Neo-Nazis and their wacky queer-bashing exploits. After all, the Left has spent years telling us that one guy using the wrong word can make an entire campus a ‘hostile environment’ and persecuting anyone who goes off-message. Look at their girly hysteria over the presence of supposed 'right-wing extremists' on this 'ere Net. No one on the Right wants this kind of witch hunting, we just want to point out the humbuggery in the MSM’s claim that they make the cultural weather, except for all the bad stuff, which just happens for no reason at all.

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